A cycling adventure like no other, taking on 4 gruelling days in the Alps to raise money for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity
Part 1 - Preparation and Arrival
I had been aware of the Royal Marsden and it's fantastic and pioneering work with cancer patients since living in London. Like many of us, cancer had already affected close family members and friends before Le Cure was on my radar. I had in fact completed a few charity cycle rides and challenges in the past for various cancer charities.
Then one day I had a patient expounding about this fantastic charity, Le Cure, that was working to raise money for the Royal Marsden Hospital. Every year they organise an epic four day cycling challenge across some of the most iconic and demanding Alpine climbs. Now in its 6th year, the Le Cure charity has raised over £1.3 million, all of which has contributed to crucial advances in cancer detection and treatment. More information can be found here: https://lecure.org/le-cure/the-research/about-the-research/
I was hooked at the idea of being able to ride my bike and raise awareness and money for a great cause. So my patient says 'come on, join us', with 6 weeks until departure, timing was a little tight for planning and fundraising so I promised I would be there in 2019.
Roll on a couple of months and the email arrives 'Le Cure 2019 Sign Up', I'm in!!! I'd love to say the training and fundraising started in earnest but in all truth it was a slow burn to get myself up and running on both counts.
An early start had us on a flight into Geneva followed by a quick transfer to Courmayeur via the monstrously long Mont Blanc tunnel. The weather was moody at best but the village itself is charming and was buzzing with thousands of crazy ultra runners about to start the TDS race at 2am that night.
I opted to take my bike out for a quick shakedown to make sure everything was in good working order. Thankfully the Di2 was fully charged, the disc brakes were quiet and responsive and the gears changing smoothly, good to go!
I met Rob on this test ride and we bonded over being the dubbed the ‘Titanium Twins’ with everyone else on the trip favoring carbon or aluminium for their bikes. That is where the similarities ended, we were a bit more like the Twins in the Arnie movie and sadly I was De Vito! This was particularly evident when the road pointed upwards in the days that followed at which point Rob would sail off up the road and despite my best efforts the bungee cord snapped unceremoniously on each climb. I knew not to try and hold on, we had done the maths. My FTP (power output) was not high enough to offset my weight advantage on the climbs, if I did it would be a rather early and painful end to the day.
So then, like any respectable group of professional athletes, we settled in for a couple of beers to hear some of the greatest hits from Le Cures of the previous years before talk turned to what lay ahead of us this year.
In short - 4 days of riding, 387km, 12,361m of climbing and some epic Alpine Cols. As dinner arrived so too did the rain and it poured down for the whole evening. But did this dampen spirits? Not at all, beer, wine, and for some, even Grappa flowed to varying points of the night.